Asuras (pronounced a-SUR-ah)1 are a race of outsiders whose origins can be traced back to a divine accident or misdeed. They live to sow mischief and strife among the mortals of the Material Plane and the gods of the Outer Sphere alike.2 They are creatures of the Great Beyond, found primarily in the domains of their masters on the plane of Hell.1
Asuras do not agree on which divine mistake spawned the first of their kind. Common hypotheses include the abandonment of the First World, free will granted by Ihys to mortals, creation of life, or the first death caused by a deity. Most asuras consider their creation was inevitable, and asura ranas all claim to be the reincarnation of the first asura.3
Asuras first hid in the Maelstrom before claiming Hell as their home, long before the devils existed. When Asmodeus led his army of exiles from Heaven to Hell, the velstrac demagogues, asura ranas, and gigas warlords gathered in council, intent on uniting their armies against the invaders, only to be betrayed by one of their own: the asura rana Geryon, who devoured 812 tyrants of Hell.34
Asuras are manifestations of divine accident, living blasphemies given life from mistakes made by the gods themselves. According to the asuras, they survived the wrath of their creators either because they were patient enough to slip under the gods' notice, or because the gods were too incompetent to see their own mistakes; nonetheless, all asuras are difficult to perceive. Asuras seek to sow doubt among mortals and ultimately revenge themselves upon the gods for their accursed existences.35
Since each divine crime only creates a single asura or at most a few, most asuras are formed from the damned shades of Hell. Since they lost control of Hell to the devils, the asuras can only claim a small fraction of such shades, usually followers of asura ranas and anti-theists, who gravitate to the most offensive divine sin and become the appropriate asura. Asurendras can also tear out pieces of Hell and craft them into new lowly tripurasuras, or directly destroy mortals, consume their souls and bodies and turn them into asuras: an act that mirrors the genesis of the asuras themselves.3
In addition to quintessence, each asura has its own unique, hateful spark that can survive its death. When an asura is killed, its spark moves toward Hell or the nearest asura rana to be reincarnated. This process takes a variable amount of time determined by whether the asura is reincarnating with or without the help of a rana, but is often some multiple of seven years.35 At the end of this process, the asura's new form is almost always lesser than its previous one, although accomplished asuras or those that swear a lifetime of service to a rana might convince the rana to supply quintessence to it so it could reincarnate in a stronger form.3 Asuras keep their memories across reincarnations, and it is nearly impossible to permanently destroy an asura.35
Asuras can breed with mortals to produce half-fiends, but they equate this act with the divine mistake that was the creation of life and view half-celestials and half-fiends as equally abhorrent—except for when their partner is a former priest, or the half-fiend child can bring shame to its family.3
Most asuras share a cohesive philosophy that culminates in nothing less than the systematic destruction of everything the gods have had a hand in creating. To this end, asuras study and meditate on the nature of creation so that they might better know how the cosmos can be unmade. The simplest among these fiends seek out the pious to torment, as well as holy places and relics to pollute with the taint of loathing and faithlessness. Once the destruction or corruption of a holy place is complete, asuras might take up residence in the area to contemplate what they have wrought and consider future misdeeds. The precise records and histories some temples keep can end up being the undoing of other bastions of faith. Thus, asuras spread.5
Asuras rarely come into conflict with other fiends. They feel kinship with daemons, who are equally omnicidal; sahkils, who also rejected the gods' order and often work with them to terrorise religions; and demodands, whom they see as fellow divine mistakes. Asuras often try (and usually fail) to convince the demodands away from the misguided worship of their thanatotic titan creators. Asuras consider divs, rakshasas, oni, and demons to be as heretical as themselves, but asuras abhor the divs' devotion to Ahriman and consider the other three fiendish races to be too power-hungry. Asuras seethe under the devils' usurped control of Hell, while devils consider asuras to be their subjugated vassals.3
Asuras seek places to dwell and brood, for unlike many other outsiders they have no realm to call their own. While the largest population of asuras dwells in the vast wildernesses of Hell, these fiends live and roam anywhere they can make room for themselves in the Great Beyond.
Asuras plot and nurture their vast abhorrence of all things, and perfect their arts of war and ruin. Even devils are unsafe in asura domains—although asuras share the alignment of their hellspawned neighbours, devils are proper creatures of the extant multiverse. So consuming is asura antipathy that devils too must eventually fall for asuras to accomplish their ultimate goal.5
Lifestyle and goals
Despite their warlike and devastating behavior, most asuras have an ascetic quality and great insight into reality, and know a great deal about the cosmos. Little in the way of material wealth or comfort can sway them from their goals. An asura might possess treasure, probably pillaged from temples lost to asura raids, and it might have servants to see to its wants and needs. However, it values such aspects of existence only insofar as they help the asura move toward its ends.5
Other asuras perfect fighting styles, or act as guardians or even extraplanar mercenaries. Such asuras become instruments of ruin, their presence antithetical to the lives of their enemies. They rarely care whom or what they are hired to battle, so long as they can end the existence of a deity's creation.5
Asuras often collect and guard treasuries of looted religious relics, and use them as bait for pious heroes powerful enough to locate such treasures despite the asuras' elusive aura. The fiends know the loss of such holy objects often grieves and undermines the beliefs of common members of a faith, and deign to draw out such spiritual suffering.5
Rarely, however, contemplation on the nature of the multiverse or a desire for something more than eternal strife causes an asura to choose a different course. Such asuras meditate to become closer to that which they once sought to destroy, purifying themselves of their soul-burning hatred. Redeemed asuras are seldom good or religious, but they do wander the planes dispensing wisdom and working against wanton destruction. Evil asuras loathe these traitors and seek them out to destroy them with teeming fervour.5
The most powerful among asurakind are the asura ranas, who are born of the most powerful and terrible divine mistakes. Many are known to have influence on Golarion, including Aghasura, Daissiad, Holika, and Vritra.2
On Golarion, asuras are most common in Vudra, where there are a million gods to have abandoned temples. Vudran priests are familiar with asuras, and a multifaith organisation called the Seekers Usanji is devoted to hunting them.3
Asuras are also common in Galt, where many devotees doubt the gods due to the Red Revolution; Rahadoum, which enforces atheism; the Mwangi Expanse, where there are many temples to gods once worshipped by various lost civilisations; and the former territory of Lung Wa, which converted millions to worship the Eternal Emperor and abandon their original faiths.3
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 246. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Pathfinder's Journal: Hell's Pawns 4 of 6” in The Infernal Syndrome, 83. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Ecology of the Asura” in Temple of the Peacock Spirit, 69–72. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Geryon, the Source of Lies” in Scourge of the Godclaw, 69. Paizo Inc., 2016 .
- “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary 3, 21. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Bestiary” in Escape from Old Korvosa, 82. Paizo Inc., 2008 .